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British actor David Suchet


Stephen J. Bottoms // “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Plays in Production)”. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2000

... when the Almeida, another small, London-based art theatre, requested permission to mount a new production in 1996, he stipulated that he would only agree if a West End transfer was guaranteed. With Albee back in fashion following the international success of his 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winner Three Tall Women, he was in a strong position to make such demands, and a four-month run at the Aldwych Theatre was scheduled to follow the month at the Almeida. The resulting production added further momentum to the Albee renaissance, attracting rave reviews by striking that elusive balance between star-studded cast and genuinely cooperative, ensemble-oriented playing.

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Most famous for playing Agatha Christie’s suave detective, Hercule Poirot, David Suchet is the brother of newsreader John Suchet. Winning acclaim in 2002 for his TV role of Augustus Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, he returns to the dark side as Gregor Antonescu in Terence Rattigan’s Man And Boy, which has just opened on London’s West End.

Does it feel nice to be on the wrong side of the law again?

Yes, it’s great. Gregor’s not on the wrong side of the law. He’s the wrong side of heaven and earth — in the depths of hell and quite happy to be there. He’s a nasty piece of work.

What’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever done? For publication, that is.

I don’t know. I can’t answer that. You’d have to ask someone else.

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Stephen J. Bottoms // “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Plays in Production)”. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2000

[...] David Suchet’s performance as George matches Diana Riggs Martha as effectively as McAnally does Stritch’s, and shows a similarly disturbing range of emotional registers. Suchet’s George is, however, considerably “bigger” than McAnally’s — just as the Almeida performance generally is “bigger” than the BBC Radio version (no doubt partly as a result of the differing levels of intimacy of the two media). There is a vicious force about Suchet which occasionally echoes the nastiness brought to the role by Hill (just as Rigg echoes Hagen). His first act speech to Martha, for example, building up to his refusal to light her cigarette, unmistakably underlines his absolute refusal to obey her instructions, and places her in a distinctly uncomfortable position in front of her guests: man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder. This is in notable contrast to the playfulness with which, say, Eddington and McAnally toy with these lines. A similar difference in force is even more apparent when Honey brings up the subject of George and Marthas son later in the act: “When’s the little bugger going to appear, hunh?” is delivered with an almost palpably threatening snarl, the “hunh?” punched in like a fist.

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Charles Spencer // Daily Telelegraph

I was an innocent teenager when I first came across Edward Albee’sWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and it knocked me for six. Did adults really behave like that? Shout like that? Swear like that? Above all drink like that? Not in our house they didn’t.

But works first encountered in adolescence tend to lose their shine in later years. A couple of duff productions persuaded me that the play wasn’t actually that good. What had once seemed wild and daring now looked melodramatic. And weren’t George and Martha, the warring couple at the centre of this booze-fuelled battle, more like a pair of screaming queens than a real-life husband and wife? This outstanding new production, starring Diana Rigg and David Suchet at the very top of their form, still doesn’t quite convince me that this 1962 play, later filmed with Burton and Taylor, is a modern masterpiece.

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Paul Taylor // The Independent

One would rather be, ooh, back in the middle of Finals than be a guest at Beverley’s gruesome little “do” in Abigail’s Party. But one would rather be in intensive care than go anywhere near George and Martha’s after-hours drinking session in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. At this sozzled, Strindbergian bitch-fest, it’s venom on the rocks and guts out on the table. The obligatory games include Get the Guest, Hump the Hostess and playing puzzled pawn in a marital war conducted as vindictive vaudeville. Emigration would be preferable to participation, but, as Howard Davies’s wonderful Almeida revival confirms, to be a fly on the wall at this event is one of the most exhilarating and cathartic experiences the post-war theatre has to offer.

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Darren Dalglish // londontheatrearchive.co.uk

This play by Edward Albee has transferred to the Aldwych after a sell out run at the Almeida and you can see why. This is a great production with a superb cast.

The play is about a frustrated, explosive woman called Martha, who taunts her quiet, stewing husband, George, about his failures in life. However, when Nick & Honey, a young married couple, come to visit for a drink late in the evening, they get entwined in Martha and George’s hurtful games that they play.

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Ian Shuttleworth // Financial Times

The first shock in Howard Davies’s fine production is the entrance of Diana Rigg on to John Napier’s scholastically opulent set. The epitome of theatrical elegance looks as close to frumpy as she can reasonably manage, eating ice cream from the tub in an undistinguished suit and semi-unruly carrot-coloured wig. Although she later emerges in a more eyecatching ensemble including tight zebra-striped pants, the point is well made that Rigg’s Martha is a siren not through any inherent allure but because she is determined, even desperate, to be so.

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// The Listener, 1980  || Note for david-suchet.ru by Daria Pichugina (proofreading by Yaroslava Vereshchagina)

The Kreutzer Sonata was the husband’s account, told in the first person, of the circumstances in which he murdered his wife, and in its original production on the World Service David Suchet’s performance as the narrator earned him the 1979 award of the best audio actor of the year. If anyone equals it in 1980 we shall be singularly fortunate for it stood head to ankles above anything I have heard in the past 12 months.

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Michael Billington // One Night Stands

A surly yobbo starts a row with an usherette in the front stalls. «I’m not having any bloody woman telling me what to do,» he cries. He then scrambles drunkenly on to the Stratford stage, pulling down bannisters and toppling pillars like some berserk Samson. Lights explode; the stage fills with harassed backstage staff; and gullible patrons start making for the exit to call the police.

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It’s just as well that the bar of the theatre where I’m due to meet David Suchet is almost empty, because I realise, to my embarrassment, that I haven’t a clue what this most distinguished of character actors looks like. But then, who does?

As Hercule Poirot, he spent six years concealed behind that ridiculous waxed moustache; in Blott on the Landscape, he was hidden by a stubby little Hitler number, beetle brows and a black beret; as Freud, inevitably, he wore a beard; as Verloc, in The Secret Agent, he was disguised by a pair of eyebrows like dead mice; and for his tour de force as the professsor in David Mamet’s Oleanna, he bore a startling resemblance to the play’s director, Harold Pinter.

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